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Poster: William Tell Date: Nov 24, 2006 10:41pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Here he goes again...

Okay, bloating is subsiding and I am motivated by the 'song contest' thread ('which song best...'), and though some will view it as more early era bias mucking things up, I have always thought that The Eleven is truly the Dead's masterpiece. I have never seen it mentioned in a thread here (of course, I am a newbie), and wonder if folks don't give it much thought since the boys more or less dropped it post 70 (and thus it isn't a part of the mid 70s that is the focus for so many at the forum).

In the 70s The Eleven was featured in music classes at Stanford and Cal as one of the better and most complex rock tunes of the 60s, though I am no musician and cannot judge it on that level. I do know that folks often disliked Phil's occasional off tune harmony, but that was always part of the appeal for me.

Thoughts on this song?

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Poster: mcglone Date: Nov 24, 2006 11:04pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

i was flipping through the american book of the dead and found this breakdown of the eleven.

all of the excruciating agonies and sublime ecstasies can be heard in 'the eleven,' perhaps their most elusive and mercurial composition.

lesh, in 1990, confirmed some of the songs difficulties to blair jackson, "it was really to restrictive, and the vocal part-the song part-was dumb. it was really designed as a rhythm trip. it wasn't designed as a song. we could've used it just as transition, which is what it was, really"

a bit of trivia, the eleven was originally conceived and rendered by hunter as a poetic coda for the band's equally squirrelly china cat sunflower.

ian

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Poster: William Tell Date: Nov 24, 2006 11:18pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

Thanks. Great stuff; I haven't read much about it, and I suppose Phil wouldn't have liked the lyrics (it was tough to sing, no doubt). I always thought the part about 'now is the time of returning, thought jewels polished and gleaming' was great (we were allowed to read a quote when we graduated from HS, and I read those two lines...very deep, eh? Or perhaps just elusive and mercurial).

This post was modified by William Tell on 2006-11-25 07:18:42

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Poster: AshesRising Date: Nov 25, 2006 2:40am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

"William Tell ...has stretched his bow till it will stretch no furtermore..."

The Eleven is one of the Grateful Dead's masterpieces. The lyrics at the beginning which you mention flow really, really well with Saint Stephen. (I don't know why they attached the "counting" lyrics to this song rather than leaving them with "China Cat" or dropping them completely.)

You know better than me, but it seems that some of the real Grateful Dead classics, whether written by them or covered by them, were dropped after Pigpen departed -- is that true?

By the way, I don't consider you or anybody else as a "newbie" and most people here probably agree -- we all have our own experience and are all equals. Nice call on "The Eleven." -- Ashes

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Poster: Old_NJ_Head_Zimmer Date: Nov 25, 2006 4:24am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

The "William Tell Bridge" is not actually part of "The Eleven". It is the ending coda of St. Stephen. This is why the dead never played it with a seperated Eleven.

At least that is one circulating theory.

Hunter even has the lyrics added to the end of Stephen not the beggining of Eleven in his Box of Rain song book.

It seems true enough, though I wonder why they never played it at the end of a Stephen into any other tune? My guess is it helped them get into the time signature.

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Poster: mcglone Date: Nov 25, 2006 4:48am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

'St Stephen' -

High green chilly winds and windy vines in loops around the
twining shafts of lavender, they're crawling to the sun

Underfoot the ground is patched with climbing arms of ivy
wrapped around the manzanita, stark and shiny in the breeze

Wonder who will water all the children of the garden when they
sigh about the barren lack of rain and droop so hungry 'neath the
sky...

William Tell has stretched his bow till it won't stretch no
furthermore and/or it may require a change that hasn't come
before


The Annotated "The Eleven"

An installment in The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics.
By David Dodd


Copyright notice

"The Eleven"
Words by Robert Hunter; music by Phil Lesh
Copyright Ice Nine Publishing; used by permission.

No more time to tell how
This is the season of what
Now is the time of returning
With thought jewels polished and gleaming
Now is the time past believing
The child has relinquished the reign
Now is the test of the boomerang
Tossed in the night of redeeming

Eight sided whispering hallelujah hatrack
Seven faced marble eye transitory dream doll
six proud walkers on jinglebell rainbow
Five men writing in fingers of gold
Four men tracking down the great white sperm whale
Three girls wait in a foreign dominion
Ride in the whale belly
Fade away in moonlight
Sink beneath the waters
to the coral sand below
Now is the time of returning



"The Eleven"

Recorded on Live Dead, as part of a four-part jam which includes "Dark Star," "Saint Stephen," "The Eleven," and "Lovelight." Also on Two From the Vault. According to Ihor Slabicky's discography, "The Eleven" was recorded for AOXOMOXOA, but not included on the album, where it would have followed "Saint Stephen."
Covered by Solar Circus on Juggling Suns.
After steady inclusion in the live repertoire from 1968 to 1970, "The Eleven" was dropped, to be revived once, at a concert in Golden Gate Park, on September 28, 1975.
The piece is famous among Deadheads as a vehicle for furious jamming in an odd meter, 11 beats to the bar, presenting a unity of title and musical content, though not particularly of lyric content, since Hunter's countdown begins with not eleven, but eight.
Counting songs are a long-standing tradition. Everyone knows "The Twelve Days of Christmas." But how about "Children, Go Where I Send Thee"?
And of course, counting-rhymes are a major part of the heritage of nursery rhymes carried on by Hunter and Barlow both. One of the best known is "A Gaping Wide-Mouthed Waddling Frog" (a cumulative verse, ending up with the following):
"Twelve huntsmen with horn and hounds,
Hunting over other men's ground;
Eleven ships sailing o'er the main,
Some bound for France and some for Spain;
Ten comets in the sky,
Some low and some high;
Nine peacocks in the air,
I wonder how they all came there,
I don't know, nor I don't care; [see "Ripple"]
Eight joiners in joiner's hall,
Working with their tools and all;
Seven lobsters in a dish,
As fresh as any heart could wish;
Six beetles against a wall,
Close by an old woman's apple-stall;
Five puppies by our dog Ball,
Who daily for their breakfast call;
Four horses stuck in a bog,
Three monkeys tied to a clog,
Two pudding ends would choke a dog,
With a gaping wide-mouthed waddling frog."
The counting portion of "The Eleven" was originally included by Hunter as part of "China Cat Sunflower". (See Conversations with the Dead, by David Gans, p. 24-25)

This note from a reader:

Subject: AGDL: The Eleven
Date: Thu, 15 Aug 96 12:00:27 EDT
From: Jon Baker
You note that the odd meter is "presenting a unity of title and musical content, though not particularly of lyrical content."

Might I suggest another allusion in the 11-beat meter? The most popular (only?) classical piece I can think of with an 11-beat measure is the Promenade theme from Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition." Perhaps the lyrics' floating from one image to another alludes to this wandering from one picture to another.

Jonathan Baker
pgmjjb@ibi.com

And another note from a reader:

From: Mitchell, Matthew [mailto:MMitchell@ECRI.org]
Sent: Wednesday, May 07, 2003 8:21 AM
Subject: The Eleven

A rather obvious reference to the Eleven came to mind Sunday. If you read the Acts of the Apostles, you'll see "the Eleven" referred to frequently: they are of course the apostles who remained after Judas fled and Christ was crucified and rose from the dead. (Mathias was added to their number later)
The Eleven were the founders of the Christian church, and the Holy Spirit came over them at Pentecost (Acts 2). They began speaking in many different tongues, but everyone present understood the message in his or her own tongue. This can be seen as an undoing of the curse of Babel (Genesis 11), where God confused the languages and divided the people. See http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=babel+pentecost
This all seems quite familiar to those of us who listen to the GD. They came from different musical traditions, listened to and played with an even greater diversity of musicians, and turned it all into a musical whole that speaks in different ways to different people. Everyone understands the Dead in their own tongue.
Matt Mitchell


Six proud walkers

See Green Grow the Rushes, Ho!", for the line: "Six for the six proud walkers."
A reader, Joe Zomerfeld, notes that this phrase parallels the line in "China Cat Sunflower":
"Proud-walking jingle in the midnight sun"


great white sperm whale

An allusion to that greatest of all symbols in American Literature, Moby-Dick. Benet has this to say:
"The whale, a symbol too complex for any one definition, but perhaps representing knowledge of reality, is hunted by Ahab at the cost of his own dehumanization and the sacrifice of his crew."


ride in the whale belly

Neatly tying the already mentioned symbol of the great white whale to the story of Jonah in the Bible. Chapter 2 of the Book of Jonah "sees Jonah saved from drowning by a 'great fish' and praying to God from its belly. God responds and the fish vomits him out." (The Anchor Bible Dictionary.)

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Poster: AshesRising Date: Nov 25, 2006 6:09am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

mcglone! - how are you? This is some great stuff after being awake for the last two daze - helps the imagery flow together really well. I must admit that

I must admit the nursery rhyme is more befitting to the Grateful Dead crowd than to children. Nice trippy title:
"A Gaping Wide-Mouthed Waddling Frog" with some rather unique lyrics:

"Seven lobsters in a dish,/
As fresh as any heart could wish....."

Thanks a lot, -- Ashes

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Poster: AshesRising Date: Nov 25, 2006 5:40am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

"Old_NJ_Head_Zimmer:" - hey, thanks a lot for the heads-up on that. I'm not a musician but I read someplace that "The Eleven" is not only the name of the song but it's time timing(?) as well which is very difficult to play.

I wonder if they dropped it when Keith arrived for whatever reason musically? They dropped "Saint Stephen" when Brent arrived except for the three brief attempts in 1983.

I appreciate the feedback on the lyrics. -- Ashes

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Poster: William Tell Date: Nov 25, 2006 6:45am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

Hey all--great insights...love this all being together here and will have to copy it all out so I can loose it somewhere on my computer (Ashes? Arbuthnot?). Many thanks especially to Ian and Old NJ Head, and the rest. Glad to see it is well liked by the likes of you all.

Do folks recall the nice little insert with the Live album that had all the words written out?

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Poster: Old_NJ_Head_Zimmer Date: Nov 25, 2006 7:15am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

Remember the insert well and the great drawings!!!!

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Poster: jhender501 Date: Nov 25, 2006 8:53am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

If I could live my life over again, I would spend more time trying to understand music theory. I read these explanations for "The Eleven", etc and am somewhat baffled. Perhaps if I would have stuck with guitar lessons many years ago..Oh well..still love the music ;-)


Jim

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Poster: mcglone Date: Nov 25, 2006 10:07am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

hi jim,

The time signature (also known as "meter signature") is a notational device used in Western musical notation to specify how many beats are in each bar and what note value constitutes one beat. Time signatures indicate meter, but do not necessarily determine it.

Simple time signatures
4/4
common time: widely used in most forms of Western classical and popular music.
2/2
alla breve, cut time: used for marches and fast orchestral music. Frequently occurs in musical theater. Sometimes called "in 2".
4/2
rarer in music since 1600, although Brahms and other conservative composers used it occasionally.
2/4
used for polkas or marches
3/4
used for waltzes, minuets, scherzi, and country & western ballads.


Compound time signatures
6/8
double jigs, fast waltzes, marches and some rock music.
9/8
"compound triple time", used in triple ("slip") jigs, otherwise occurring rarely (The Sorcerer's Apprentice and The Ride of the Valkyries are some familiar examples)
12/8
classical music; also common in blues and doo-wop, also used more recently in rock music.

fyi, the eleven, as its name suggests, is in 11/8 time, mostly played as three beats of three followed by a beat of two ( but with all sorts of variations played against each other).

This post was modified by mcglone on 2006-11-25 18:07:42

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Poster: William Tell Date: Nov 25, 2006 10:22am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

Way to go Ian--thanks, man. Though, I am hoping that there will not be a quiz (or anymore spell checks and grammarian analyses), it is nice to have a vague notion of what is going on.

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Poster: Liamfinnegan Date: Nov 25, 2006 12:45pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

THanks McGone for explaining the Eleven time signature- hence my 1-2-3-1-2-3-1-2-3-1-2 is the correct way of counting it out- I did not want to pretend I knew something I did not know-

If you personally have not heard apocalypse in 9/8 from suppers ready here it is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWOaXAiCSCA

after the flute solo it kicks in at 1:39 mark

This post was modified by Liamfinnegan on 2006-11-25 20:45:51

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Poster: AshesRising Date: Nov 25, 2006 7:10am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

WT: - got my laughin' with the "lose it on my computer." -- thanks a lot. - no, I don't remember the insert - when I first discovered them in '78 I had a real hard time tracking down their lyrics - I would have remembered that insert since that crazy "countdown" lyrics were impossible to figure out just by listening. Great tune. - Ashes

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Poster: Liamfinnegan Date: Nov 24, 2006 11:11pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

The eleven was great, but had its limitations- there are a few versions out there that extend to around 15 minutes- the time signature was fascinating- speaking to my theory of primal dead as prog rock band (listen to live soft machine from 1970 on youtube- enter that phrase on the search box)- the art rock/Canterbury scene progsters were tooling around with odd time signatures- Suppers Ready has the difficult to play "apocalypse in 9/8....1-2-3-4-1-2-3-1-2"- so to me the eleven, like Phil said, would have better served as a "movement" in a larger piece

The whole song seems wrapped around two chords, and there did not seem to be many nooks and crannies to explore- still I do enjoy them and wonder why they the song was shelved (could be it was played nearly every show in 67-68. I do not buy the theory that it was too "difficult"- Estimated Prophet is written in 14/8 (1-2-3-4-5-6-7-1-2-3-4-1-2-3- think this and listen to the song- you will here it) and Playin in the Band was in 10/8- starting its life as the Main ten jam- Help on the way-Slipknot has some tricky stuff, too.

Too much being said, I did read once where the audience one night actually clapped out the 11 beats 1-2-3-1-2-3-1-2-3-1-2)- that would have been neat to experience

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Poster: William Tell Date: Nov 25, 2006 6:50am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

Liam--interesting stuff--thanks for passing it along. I can't say about the difficulty aspect, but it seems to make sense that they may not have been experimental with it if they were too busy keeping it straight...?

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Poster: cush11 Date: Nov 24, 2006 11:38pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

I was there that night... But then I woke up. It was fun while it lasted!

Ok, enough nonscents from me for now, I bid you all a good night!

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Poster: cush11 Date: Nov 24, 2006 11:05pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

The Eleven has always been missed...

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Poster: johnnyonthespot Date: Nov 24, 2006 11:03pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

My thought is I love that tune, especially with the William Tell lead in. : )Seriously.

Never did know what the hell they were singing until they brought it back after Jerry died. Still don't get it after knowing the words. I think it was exactly the prescision of the song why they dropped it. That is a song they would have had to have been rehearsed instead of just seeing which way the wind blew it. Just my .02

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Poster: Cliff Hucker Date: Nov 25, 2006 5:25pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

Dude...

Check out 2/12/69 for a dynamite, hard charging Eleven!!!

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Poster: William Tell Date: Nov 25, 2006 5:39pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

You got that right; agreed. Thanks.

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Poster: direwolf0701 Date: Nov 25, 2006 5:36pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

I alway loved The Eleven off the The Other Ones live commercial realease with Kimock, weir, et al - tight, jazzy, more of a song, and weir's vocals are much better than ANY other version out there - modernized i realize, but one of my favorite versions - even the jams

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Poster: BryanE Date: Nov 25, 2006 1:02pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

A few things that always struck me about the song as presented on Live Dead are:

1> Jerry's lead that comes screeching out of a roar of feedback several bars into the post-Willam Tell quick-tempo bluesey jam, and then---
2> How the whole feel of the jam completely shifts gears underneath that Garcia lead from something dark and raunchy to its brighter, celebratory exclamation, triumphantly steering the listener onto a completely new road, then . . .
3> The strange and wonderful lyrics of the song itself, with Phil and Weir singing one set of words that are set against an entirely different lyrical counterpoint
delivered by Jerry, all of it a hybrid of Melville, The Bible and nursery rhyme-like poetry, which leads the song climaxing back into lead guitar jamland with the rousing, "Three girls waiting in a foreign dominion, riding in the whalebelly, fade away in the moonlight, sink beneath the waters to the coral sand below--oh, oh, whoa!"
And finally 4> That glorious passage which eventually does a complete about-face into unexplored territory, threatening the listener with some kind of dire vengeance, but then somehow finds its way headlong into the joy that is Lovelight.
Come up with something better than "WOW!" to summarize it, and you'll have my admiration.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Nov 25, 2006 2:01pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Here he goes again...

A man after my own heart; well said. Thanks.